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7 Scariest Caves in the U.S.

We can think of few things more terrifying than scary caves. 

Who knows what kind of creatures lurk in the earth’s dark crevices? Maybe you’re brave enough to find out. 

We’ve researched some of the spookiest caverns in America for thrill-seekers to check out and for claustrophobic people to avoid.

Let’s go spelunking!

Why Are Caves So Scary?

Many people find caves scary because they tend to be mysterious. Some can run for miles underground and have yet to be fully mapped. Explorers, also called spelunkers, have died by getting lost or stuck in caverns. Some have even become trapped by floods.

In addition to the horrors of getting stuck in one of the earth’s dark cavities, they can be full of critters. 

Bats often cling to the ceiling, and eyeless shrimp sometimes lurk below the surface of these dark, underground lakes. We find it alarming that when you go spelunking, you probably share enclosed spaces with wild animals much better at navigating the dark than humans. 

Faint-of-heart explorers would do best to steer clear of caving. If you want to check out some of the scary caves in the U.S., we’ve compiled a list of the most harrowing ones for you to check out. 

Man hiking in cave
Thrill seekers will love exploring the many creepy caves across the US.

#1 Bell Witch Cave

If regular caves don’t spook you, maybe a haunted one will. Stories about the spirit living in the Bell Witch Cave date back to 1817. After spending a night near the cave, former president Andrew Jackson said, “I had rather face the entire British Army than spend another night with the Bell Witch.”

According to the legend, John Bell’s neighbor Kate Batts felt she had been swindled out of the land by him. After her passing, she continued to haunt Bell and his daughter while residing in a local cave. Even today, visitors sometimes hear her voice echoing through the cavern.

If you feel brave enough to take on the Bell Witch Cave, you can do so in Adams, Tennessee, about 40 minutes north of Nashville. Fearless visitors can check out the historic cave and parts of Bell’s farm. 

#2 Cathedral Caverns

You can visit Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville, Alabama, and tour the giant cave. The opening stretches over 120 feet wide and 25 feet tall, making it one of the largest commercial spelunking entrances in the world.

Runners might love to swing by in March for the Race to the Cave Half Marathon, which finishes underground. 

During a trip to this Alabama state park, you can tour about two miles of the giant cavern. The rest of the enormous grotto remains unmapped, and the depth of its crevices stays unknown. 

In 1985 this cave became a film set for the zombie movie What Waits Below. Nearly twenty cast and crew members ended up in the hospital with near-fatal doses of carbon monoxide. The experience serves as a brutal reminder of the dangers of Cathedral Caverns. 

#3 Cave Spring

One thing remains certain, if you want to witness some scary paranormal activity, you should check out Cave Spring. Locals say the ghost of a young girl who died of scarlet fever haunts this cavern. Others have seen apparitions of the Indigenous People who once lived there. 

A natural spring runs through it and into a reflecting pond in Rolater Park. Visitors have recalled seeing apparitions throughout the areaExploring caves can be scary if you’re claustrophobic, but these destinations are extra creepy. Discover the spookiest underground caverns here! , as well as in the town of Cave Spring.

The park offers ghost tours every October with local storytellers who relay paranormal legends. Located about an hour and a half northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, it’s a popular destination for phantom hunters. 

Pro Tip: After visiting Cave Spring, head to Atlanta and visit The Southern Food Mecca Ponce City Market.

#4 Mammoth Cave

You might’ve heard of Mammoth Cave National Park in western Kentucky. With over 400 miles of labyrinth-like caverns explorers have mapped so far, it’s the longest in the world. Some geologists estimate there could be up to 600 more miles of underground tunnels to explore. 

If the sheer size of doesn’t make you a little uneasy, the ghost stories probably will. Dr. John Croghan purchased the cave and several enslaved guides in 1839 to turn it into a hospital.

His patients worsened and died, and Dr. Croghan succumbed to illness in 1849.

Some say you can still hear his patients’ coughs echoing through the chambers near corpse rock. Other witnesses of paranormal activity in Mammoth Cave, including park rangers, have seen apparitions of the enslaved guides.

#5 Moaning Caverns

Moaning Caverns are in central California. The changes in pressure as warm air enters and cold air escapes, causing a spooky moaning sound. It can be especially frightening to those unaware of the cave’s natural noises. 

This scary cave features a vertical drop of nearly 200 feet. When modern explorers began spelunking in the area, they found the remains of almost 100 people, including gold miners.

They believe the cave lured them to death, with its moans acting like a siren song.

Today, adventurous souls can visit the park to descend into the depths of a moaning cavern on a wrought iron staircase. You can opt to repel down instead or try out the underground zipline for a memorable experience in this eerie cave. 

#6 Robber’s Cave

A network of tunnels known as Robber’s Cave stretches below Lincoln, Nebraska. German immigrants expanded an existing underground space to store grain for their brewery. This hand-dug cavern features 5,000 square feet of underground real estate. 

After the brewery’s closure, the abandoned tunnels became a hiding spot for criminals like Jesse James. Legend has it that escapees from a nearby mental hospital would disappear underground. 

Though Robber’s Cave remained closed to the public for many years, it has reopened. You can take a tour to learn about the history and legends of these storied tunnels. 

#7 Wind Cave

Wind Cave has existed for over 300 million years, making it one of the oldest in the world. The expansive 149 miles of contorted caverns sit beneath just 1.25 acres. 

The region’s dry climate prevented the formation of drip formations like stalactites, but instead, a unique geological phenomenon occurred. Its underground features a rare pattern known as boxwork calcite which looks like giant spiderwebs overhead.

The striking resemblance to most people’s least favorite eight-legged creature has been enough to keep some explorers at bay.

If you want to see it yourself, head to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Guided tours take visitors into the caverns daily, but they sell out quickly, so purchase your tickets in advance.

Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these Best Free Camping Spots In South Dakota.

Are You Brave Enough for These Scary Caves?

These seven scary caves in the U.S. require spelunkers with nerves of steel. Brave explorers can check out the paranormal activity or see eerie rock formations during visits to these underground caverns. 

Courageous travelers might also try ziplining for an extra adrenaline rush. Whichever adventure you choose, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.

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